Climate Emergency Action Plan

A staff report laying out the City of Vancouver's proposed Climate Emergency Action Plan will be debated at Council this week, starting Tuesday, November 3rd. It is a comprehensive plan that addresses emissions from buildings, transportation, and "embodied emissions" (what Vancouver essentially 'imports' from elsewhere in buildings and other consumption). While we are generally supportive of climate action and the measures in this report, we see two major areas that need improvement.

1. The Emissions Reduction Targets Should Be Scaled (Inversely) with Population Growth

Vancouver is a growing city and needs to reduce emissions regardless of population growth. However, the effectiveness of the proposed policies need to be assessed in a way that ensures we are not just pushing even more people and families into car-oriented suburbs and other, more car-oriented, cities. A family that is using public and active transit in Vancouver is one that is not driving in from Langley. We are calling on Council to require household/population growth targets to be appropriately integrated into the assessment of our 2030 emissions reduction target.

Metro Vancouver's recent population growth has been focused in auto-oriented suburbs.

2. Planning for Housing and Complete Communities Needs to Happen Sooner than 2024

The Action Plan says very little about Big Move 1, targeting 90% complete communities where people can meet their daily needs within an easy/walk roll by 2030. This is because it is being addressed as part of the on-going Vancouver Plan process. But it does state clearly that complete communities with more housing options are essential to the success of the overall plan, including improving the feasibility of several of the other Big Moves. For this reason, the current timeline of merely having recommendations to Council by 2024 is setting up the entire Action Plan for failure. The development process in Vancouver is inevitably a multi-year affair, and multistorey buildings can take years to complete. We are calling on Council to amend the timeline by requiring actionable recommendations for referral to public hearing by 2022 at the latest.

Read our letter to Council Here

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Help Get Moderate Income Rental Homes Approved at Broadway & Alma!

Are you or your children renters, or will they be soon? Are other loved ones or friends struggling to stay in Vancouver? This apartment building is for you! It will have 161 secured rental homes, including 20% (by floor area) reserved permanently for moderate incomes earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

TL;DR: This building will improve affordability in Vancouver, as well as access to jobs and public transit. It is at risk because people in wealthy neighbourhoods are very organized in their opposition to new buildings, especially buildings that are larger (i.e. include more homes), and several city councillors have recently started trying to delay most housing initiatives. To support, speak at the public hearing this Tuesday, October 27th, and/or write in via the City's online comment form. Don’t know what to say? Here's the basics, read on for more:

Subject: 3701-3743 West Broadway

Position: Support

Comments: Whatever you like, the more specific & personal the better! It can be as simple as "We need much more rental in West Point Grey / near UBC / in this City. The housing crisis is now; this project must be approved and not delayed" Read below to find out some of the reasons this is a great proposal that should be replicated many times over.

Why Vancouver needs these apartments and many more like it:

1. Centrally Located - By public transit, these homes will be 30 minutes to UBC and 30 minutes right to Waterfront Station. By bike, they are 15 minutes to UBC, 30 minutes to Waterfront Station downtown.

2. Zero Displacement - Wealthy, low-density neighbourhoods need to stop pushing people out through no growth or slow growth planning policies. It's socially bad, forces people in less affluent neighbourhoods to compete with West Point Grey's wealthy children for housing, and makes thousands of people have longer commutes. This proposal is exactly where we should be building much more housing, and this building will not displace any current tenants!

WPG is 4% of Vancouver's land in a central, amenity-rich location, but has only 2% of people.

WPG has half the population density of the rest of Vancouver.

WPG has the 3rd highest incomes in Vancouver but too many people are still paying too much for housing.

WPG is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city, but far too many people can't afford the rent.

3. Moderate Income Homes - While building more market rental homes helps to increase affordability through increased supply, these moderate income homes will help keep people in their neighbourhood who can't afford market rents today (and long into the future). To meet the targets set out in the Housing Vancouver Strategy, the City needs to approve about 573 moderate income homes per year over the next 8 years, roughly 19 buildings like this per year. The need for "missing middle" housing is great, and City Council needs to be pushed to do much more much faster. This project is a step in the right direction.

The City is behind on rental targets and way behind on moderate income rental

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2020 Provincial Election Questionnaire

Vancouver candidates from all three of the big BC parties answered our first ever provincial housing questionnaire! Devyani Singh, Kelly Tatham, and Stephanie Hendy of the Green Party answered questions individually, while the NDP and Liberal candidates in Vancouver responded collectively with their colleagues in detailed letters (included in full at the end of this post). A big thank you to all of the candidates who took the time to put together these thoughtful responses on an issue that is still top-of-mind for Vancouverites! Read all four questions and all responses below:

Question 1 - UEL:

Residential areas of the University Endowment Lands are mostly zoned for mansions that are unaffordable to the vast majority of Vancouverites, including the students and staff for whom living in the area would be very convenient. Unlike most residential land, the Province has not delegated land use decisions in the UEL to a municipal council. Within lands under provincial jurisdiction, would you support allowing apartments in amenity-rich areas, e.g. near a major university and large parks, to help address the lack of student and workforce housing? Are there other ways in which you think this land could be better used?

- Devyani Singh (Green, Vancouver-Point Grey): The BC Green Party supports allowing multi-family homes in amenity-rich areas as a broad and basic principle of housing equity. In 2017, the BC Housing 2017/18 - 2019/20 Service Plan committed to developing student housing at universities and colleges. While a step in the right direction, the $450 million allocated to a provincial loan fund for universities and colleges is a short-term measure and does not provide a long-term path forward for responsible densification of the University Endowment Lands. The B.C. Greens are committed to approaching public policy in a more comprehensive, bold, and lasting way. The B.C. Greens support the provincial government reviewing the University Endowment Lands Act through meaningful engagement with post-secondary leaders, students, faculty and staff and other key stakeholders to develop long-term solutions to housing needs. This should include protection for renters living on the UEL who are currently not included in the Residential Tenancy Act, and comprehensive improvements to land use and planning directions on UELs in accordance with regional efforts to support housing affordability and equity emerging through the Metro 2050 and Transport 2050 updates and other work in progress. 

-Kelly Tatham (Green, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant): I would certainly support more affordable options on the campus, however, as this land is in the core territory of the Musqueam Indian Band, any decisions about the land's use should ultimately be made by them if they so choose. Indigenous sovereignty is a huge part of land use that is too often left out, and I would look to their guidance when it comes to the UEL usage.

- Stephanie Hendy(Green, Vancouver-Langara): Yes I would support allowing apartments in amenity-rich areas on UEL. These would have to be rentals.
Is there any research into whether there could be funding available through the Community Land Trust to build co-operative housing?

... 3 more questions on schools, rental housing, and provincial land use interventions, after the jump. Plus, overall responses from the NDP and Liberals! ...

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Tell the City We Need Apartments on Quiet Streets

Survey on Rental in “Transition Areas” Closes Soon; Fill it out Today!

Apartments on a quiet streetThe City of Vancouver wants to hear from you about their revised policy allowing apartments near arterial roads. The policy will allow single-family (RS) and duplex (RT) lots to be rezoned for small rental buildings, generally up to 6-storeys on arterial roads and 4-storeys up to one block away. Kitsilano NIMBYs are fighting this hard, the policy is at risk of being watered-down even more. Your voice can make a difference!

TL;DR: Here are a few important points to consider before answering the survey:

Question 1: Do you have comments on any of the proposed policy changes?

  • Still Breathing Diesel Fumes: This policy still only allows apartments within 1 block of arterial streets. Renters deserve to be allowed to live on quiet, clean side streets too. The 1 block limit should be removed entirely: apartments should be allowed anywhere near schools, parks, or shopping nodes (or just anywhere!).

Question 2: Do you have any comments on the new rental zones?

  • More Options for Moderate Income Rental: There are not enough incentives for moderate income rental apartments and the incentives described do not appear very financially attractive. Only a 9% increase in floor space is offered for reserving 20% of an apartment building for below market apartments, and this small bonus is only allowed directly on arterial streets. The City is running way behind the rental targets in the Vancouver Housing Strategy, there should be more and better incentives, such as allowing 6-storey buildings with moderate income homes off-arterial and providing options for 12-storey mass timber construction in at least some locations.

 Question 3: Do you have any other comments on the Secured Rental Policy for Low-Density Transition Areas?

  • This is an important policy for creating much-needed rental housing. The scale of this policy has not changed much from the original 2012 policy; which ignores the worsening crisis, a critical shortage of rental housing and the rapidly rising rents over the past several years. More ambitious policies are needed now.

 You can answer the survey and read more about the policy at the City’s consultation page, but be sure to submit your thoughts as the survey closes soon!

 Want to know more? More analysis after the flip…

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Degentrify Shaughnessy

Tomorrow, council will decide whether to allow 81 rental apartments at 4750 Granville in Shaughnessy.  Can you let council know it’s time for Shaughnessy to start letting people in, instead of pushing people out?

 

What you can do:

  1. Speak Sign up (item 3 - 4750 Granville), and let council know that it’s time to let the rest of us live in Shaughnessy.  
  2. Write - tell council about your perspective on housing in our region why it’s important that all areas of Vancouver contribute - use the city’s online form or our handy letter generator
  3. Share this message
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Letter In Support of Missing Middle Motion

Abundant Housing Vancouver writes to the Vancouver City Council in support of Motion B.5 Enabling Creative and Easily Replicated “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots

 

July 21st, 2020

Vancouver City Hall

453 West 12th Avenue

Vancouver, BC  V5Y 1V4

 

Dear Mayor Stewart and Council,


Abundant Housing Vancouver is writing in support of Motion B.5 Enabling Creative and Easily Replicated “Missing Middle” Housing Pilots

As you are aware, the vast majority of residential land in Vancouver is subject to bylaws banning all but the least affordable types of housing. This prohibition has contributed to the housing crises this city is facing. We support this motion, as it moves the City of Vancouver in the direction of legalizing more affordable types of housing in all areas of the city.

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Council Round-Up July 21st, 2020

When the Vancouver City Council is in session, Abundant Housing Vancouver will be providing a breakdown of important public hearings and housing-related motions.

At the end of the July 7th Council meeting, Council failed to take a vote to refer unfinished business to another date because they ran out the clock arguing over how and whether to refer unfinished business. As a result, when the scheduled end of the meeting arrived everything not yet handled got automatically pushed to this week’s council meeting.

Highlights:

Missing Middle Pilot

A motion by Councilor Dominato to create a program for demonstration projects of ground oriented, missing middle type housing in the low density zones that cover most of the city.

Please support this motion by writing to council or requesting to speak in favour (deadline to register to speak is 1 hour before the start of the meeting).

1425 and 1451 East 12th Avenue

This development will deliver two 6-storey buildings containing 157 units of secured seniors social housing, with 30% below housing income limits. The project is getting opposition from nearby single family residents. There is a letter generator on the providers website to write in support.

2538 Birch Street

243 rental homes, with 53 moderate income rentals (20% of the floor area), located two blocks from the future Broadway & Granville Skytrain Station and a short walk to Vancouver General Hospital. This project adds needed rental and moderate income housing near a key employment center in the city.

A lengthy public hearing took place July 9th and 10th. Council was due to vote on the proposal on July 14, however one Councillor had not reviewed the section of the public hearing she missed. After a lengthy debate about how to proceed, Council referred the final questions and decision to the July 21st meeting.

C-2 Rental Option Pre-Zoning

Allow 6-storey rental buildings (with commercial on the first floor) in C-2 zones, outside of recent and upcoming area plans without a rezoning application. This is intended to shift more projects away from strata condos and create somewhat more rental housing.

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Why You Should Care About Birch (and other Moderate Income Rental Projects)

And What You Can Do About It Right Now 

Are you a renter? Are your children renters (or will they be soon)? Are other loved ones or friends you’d like to be able to stay in Vancouver renters? Great, this apartment building is for you! 

2538 Birch St Location & Rendering

TL;DR: This building will improve affordability in Vancouver, as well as access to jobs and public transit. To support, speak at the public hearing this Thursday, July 9th, and write in to publichearing@vancouver.ca. Don’t know what to say?

- Use our handy Letter Generator to get you started.

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Council Round Up - July 7th - July 9th

When the Vancouver City Council is in session, Abundant Housing Vancouver will be providing a breakdown of important public hearings, housing related motions and other housing business. 

Highlights:

 

2538 Birch Street

243 rental homes, with 53 moderate income rentals (20% of the floor area), located two blocks from the future Broadway & Granville Skytrain Station and a short walk to Vancouver General Hospital. This project adds needed rental and moderate income housing near a key employment center in the city.

This project is facing an organized opposition, your support is needed to get these needed moderate income rentals built. Please write in support or request to speak at the July 9th public hearing to tell council to approve affordable rental housing.

1111-1123 Kingsway

Part of the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP), this project proposes to bring 131 rental homes to Kensington-Cedar Cottage area at the intersection of Kingsway and Glen Drive. 20% of homes (by floor area) will be permanently affordable to moderate income households.

Please write in support or request to speak to let council know you support affordable rental housing.

Missing Middle Pilot

A motion by Councilor Dominato to create a program for demonstration projects of ground oriented, missing middle type housing in the low density zones that cover most of the city.

Please support this motion by writing to council or requesting to speak in favour (deadline to register to speak is 1 hour before the start of the meeting).

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Broken and unrepresentative: The problem with public hearings

You have probably received a postcard from the City notifying you about a public hearing, or perhaps have read a news story about one. But chances are you have never been to one. And that is a problem. The process that shapes our city and decides where people can and can't live does not represent the people of Vancouver.

What is a public hearing? Every city in BC has a set of bylaws, known as zoning, controlling what can and cannot be built on every lot in the city. If you ever wondered why 75% of land in Vancouver has expensive detached houses, rather than more affordable apartments and condos, zoning is the answer. Under provincial law, every time a city wants to change zoning, called a rezoning, the city council has to hold a public hearing, for members of the public to have their say.

That may sound good in theory, but in practice it is an ineffective, inequitable and broken way of deciding important questions of who gets to build and live where.

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